In additional to studying Photography and Spanish all students participated in a Global Competencies Workshop led by Mrs. Kashyap. It was a very special workshop that provided the framework for our time in Perú.
As Anais Nin said, “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.” Our global competency workshops began each night with a few girls sharing their cultural autobiographies, 3-5 minute narratives explaining topics such as her cultural identity, family history, perception of identity, and sense of being “American.” Girls were called upon to answer questions such as:
What cultures define you? How do you nationally identify? How do you racially and/or ethnically identify?
Do you identify as “American?” What does it mean to you to be “American?”
Do you have memories about your first time encountering a different culture/ethnicity of your own?
What are some questions that you have about your cultural identity?
Each girl embraced the chance to face the discomfort of sharing a personal tale and the stories produced enabled members of the group to get to know one another on a more personal level than would have been achieved otherwise. Though the autobiographies were an exercise in listening for the rest of the group, afterwards Ms. Kashyap provided prompts for group discussion.
Among the prompts discussed were:
“If you pity my struggle, move on. If my struggle is tied up in yours, let’s sit down and talk.” Talking this quotation into consideration, let’s reflect on our time in Qenqo and with the Peruvian Promise girls.
“I am because you are.”
Thinking about our cultural autobiographies and reflecting on who we are, who is one person that has made you more whole?
Looking at Winsor’s list of global competences, we focused on the following one:
“Strives for self knowledge through the study of others. She seeks to illuminate the core assumptions and values that define her own identity and cultural perspective while recognizing that her own world view may not be universally shared.”
Share a personal value that has been illuminated through the trip.
Although each discussion began with one of the prompts, we found ourselves meandering to numerous topics of further relevance to the group and our trip. For example, we discussed the implications of the term “service trip,” the motives and sustainability of “service,” the effects of tourism on local populations, and living life in pursuit of fulfillment or happiness and the difficulties that might arise in attempting to do so.
In our final discussion we addressed the challenging task of how to present our experiences in Peru with our communities back home. We recognized the need to present multiple facets of our trip so as to avoid the dilemma of creating a single story of Peru. As Chimamanda Adichie said, “The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” In sharing memories in settings ranging from the isolated pueblito of Qenqo to the hustle and bustle of tourist-driven Aguas Calientes and the active market places of Urubamba, we can offer a less one dimensional image of Peru.
Ultimately, the global competences workshops framed our trip by leading us to think critically about our own cultures and resulting perceptions of others and the world. The workshops challenged us to adopt mindsets beyond simply tourists snapping pictures in the town square. Instead, we were able to embrace the experience as a chance to practice globally responsible citizenship.